The Blog

We’re making something better.

After having been in business for 8 years, we’ve tried quite a few platforms for project management. Basecamp, Google Apps, ActionMethod, they all have their advantages, yet as a small but diverse team, we’ve found that basecamp, the platform we’ve been using all along is the most versatile and organized method for our team to manage our projects internally. We have used it extensively for every project we’ve worked on in the past 5 years for internal collaboration, task management, and time tracking. We love the idea of creating client profiles so they can contribute to the collaboration process with recorded accountability. The client has the ability to use basecamp as a tool for greater visibility of overall project status and current tasks we’re working on. All they have to do is log in… right?

So why don’t they use it?

Basecamp is too much for our clients. And in some cases, too little. All of the collaboration going on by our internal team is overwhelming to our clients. And when the time comes for collaboration, they desire more visual tools than what is offered in basecamp’s UI. We also found the few clients that did use basecamp, evolved their use of it to internal collaboration among themselves, which became a liability and general annoyance for us.

A complete project view.

While we could create an overall project in Basecamp by lumping together a series of messages, checklists, and writeboards, our clients have a hard time visualizing this as a whole, and with a particular proposed flow. What we needed was a tool to visualize and contribute to a linear project, broken down into phases, each with dependencies on previous phases. We don’t need a proper calendar, but rather a Gantt’s eye view of  phases, milestones and deadlines in order to visualize these dependencies.

But what about visibility to the client?

Basecamp offers a wide range of privileges for users,

We all live in a yellow blue submarine.

Enter submarine, a complete project view, offering a combination of collaboration tools, high-angle viewing of tasks and progress, and legalese.  It’s basecamp-connected, so we can continue to manage projects through Basecamp, but our clients have their own user-interface, custom catered to the specific project. It’s also connected to our online billing platform, Freshbooks to ensure estimates and invoice match exactly the approved project scope.

Flat out awesome.

We designed the UI of submarine with the modern stylistic standard of “Flat User interface”. We focused on simplicity in the User Experience to encourage  Color is limited to action elements.

Contracts.

Throughout 2012, the sltwtr “executive team” revised our pricing structure, project workflows, internal management roles, next-level goals, and corporate assets, including a brand new Services Agreement and format for Scope of Work for all future projects. While framing out how we should handle the scoping of projects from proposals to invoices, we found a striking resemblance in the format we were putting in place to that of our project management UI. Seeing overlap in the workflow of proposals, collaboration, signoffs, and revisions, and rather than add paper documents to our workflow, we decided to integrate these elements right into our new project management tool. To enter the post-authenticated environment of submarine, users (our clients) must read, initial, date, and sign our complete Services agreement. Each phase of a project includes fiscal dependencies and contractual obligations right alongside collaborative tools.

When can I take a dip?

We’ll be launching submarine in 2013. You’ll know when it happens because we’re going to make a big deal out of it.